War Diaries – 23rd to 30th November 1942

23rd November

Brigade HQ – FARM 795012.

1030 Lecture by Brigade Major on ‘Field Discipline’.

Brigade Commander visited HQ 2 LIR at 770015

2200 Party shown in Appendix A rejoined HQ.

2300 Party shown in Appendix B disembarked at Algiers during air bombardment.

6 Innisks – BARAKI.

Coys disposed under cover of line of trees and get settled in. At 1030hrs the whole Battalion went for a 10 mile route march. As C Coy had only arrived in at 0130hrs they marched 20 miles in 14 hours – a very good show. Major Allen went into Algiers to collect A and B Coys’ packs. There was a raid on Algiers at 0900hrs. Bivouacs were issued on a very reduced scale. Battalion living on 14 men packs. Drinking water very short. CO visits all coys during the afternoon.

During the night there was a heavy raid on Algiers – the heaviest so far. At 2245hrs a dud or D/A bomb was dropped near the Battalion lines. Sleep last night and tonight is impossible owing to intense cold and lack of bedding, and tonight owing to the air raid and noise of AA fire. Shrapnel fell in the Battalion area but no one was hit. Adjutant spent the afternoon working out how and where the Battalion is dispersed – many small packets away as baggage and MT parties. Fusilier Johnston of B Coy put a bullet in his foot. The air raids continued until just after dawn – a very sleepless night – rained during the night.

24th November

Brigade HQ – FARM 795012.

0103 Brigade Commander explained military situation in North Africa to Commanders 6 Innisks and 2 LIR. 

1200 Party shown at Appendix B (less baggage party) rejoined this HQ.

1800 FSP attached Brigade HQ reported that ‘Maire’ of Maison Carree (8006) was suspected to be pro Vichy.

6 Innisks – BARAKI.

A quiet day. Many have sore feet. Move bivouacs arrive. CO talked to all officers at 1015hrs about discipline and of the need to realise we are now at War and not on an exercise. Many small points especially from the platoon commander’s point of view require attention. Major Allen, QM, and Padre go off to Algiers on various jobs. Major Allen changes a certain amount of our BMA money into francs (rate of exchange 300 francs to £1). Padre brings back a bottle of vermouth and one bottle of Algerian wine, having been told to get some drinks! Adjutant went into Algiers on back of M/C to see Captain Little and tell him J.11 will probably be unloaded tomorrow. On the way back he sees Captain Hooper and Lieutenant Ablett and the remainder of 1st Reinforcements. So all 1st Reinforcements are in Algiers.

CO attended Brigade Commander’s conference at 1515hrs and spoke to all officers again at 1645hrs on more or less the same lines as this morning’s conference, but on points actually brought out on the Brigade Commander’s conference. Padre and QM had quite a job to get back and eventually arrived at 1930hrs. After bartering with a taxi driver, they had to pay him 150 francs.

No news since we arrived but the rumours are most illuminating. 3000 British planes raid Berlin – Dakar and West Africa have been given to us by Darlan also Martinique – Russians advance 50 miles round Stalingrad – Eighth Army pushing – Tunis taken and so on. It will be interesting to see how much is true. The Battalion was given oranges in the grove. 950 oranges were picked and distributed to the men.

25th November

Brigade HQ – FARM 795012.

1015 Brigade Major addressed all officers of Brigade HQ on ‘Field Discipline’.

1400 Brigade Commander and Brigade Major attended ‘War Game’ at Divisional HQ (8207).

6 Innisks – BARAKI.

A terribly wet night with thunder, which at times was intermingled with AA fire. By 0800hrs the camp was a sea of mud. We had hoped we had left mud for good when we left Cumnock but it was not to be. QM and Padre were washed out of their bivouacs. At 0915hrs until 1215hrs the Battalion went for a route march in the pouring rain. On return to camp CO was told by the Brigade to go at once for War Game at Divisional HQ. At 1500hrs he returns having been on the back of a M/C for two hrs looking for Divisional HQ without success. 2 i/c saw Coy Commanders at 1400hrs for conference. IO busy all day sorting out thousands of maps of Algeria and Tunisia. Colonel Jeffrey’s (2 LIR) stayed to tea. When Brig returned he told the CO there is no hope of getting the Battalion under cover, or rum, as it is wanted for the fighting troops, who are fighting in the snow. It rained all day. A very, very wet and windy night. Battalion now “stands to” at dawn and dusk and has a regular routine.

26th November

Brigade HQ – FARM 795012.

1100 A TEWT for Coy Commanders 6 Innisks and 2 LIR was held by Brigade Commander.

6 Innisks – BARAKI.

Owing to the very strong winds and tropical downpour last night A, D and part of B Coy were flooded out and had to move to other areas. Battalion went out on 10 miles route march, while CO and Coy Commanders attended Brigade Commanders TEWT at 1100hrs. Battalion transport not yet unloaded (it is two days behind owing to heavy seas). Adjutant went into Algiers to get officers Pay Books and some Algerian wine. Owing to bad weather, there were no air raids over Algiers last night. A squally day and night.

27th November

Brigade HQ – FARM 795012.

1400 Brigade Commander visited Divisional Commander to confer on forward move of the Brigade.

1600 Transport Ships and H.45 commenced unloading at Algiers.

6 Innisks – BARAKI.

CO’s TEWT for Coy Commanders – “Dawn attack”. In the afternoon Coy Commanders hold similar TEWT for platoon and section commanders. News received that a NAAFI (EFI) is now operating in Algiers and that 2 bottles of whiskey at 8/6d per bottle and two bottles of gin at 6/6d per bottle per officer per month can be obtained. Lieutenant Carruthers is immediately dispatched to obtain an initial supply. Padre is dispatched to buy writing paper and envelopes and manages to get a fair supply, which merits a ready demand from the troops. At 1930hrs Brigade Command arrives and warns Battalion that it will probably move forward by destroyers and fast steamers and also by road. The Battalion will not move tactically, but by odds and ends. A M/C, the first of Battalion transport was unloaded off J.11. J.3 has gone to Bone to be unloaded there. Conference at 2030hrs of Brigade CO, Brigade Major, and Adjutant to discuss figures and numbers for move. A more or less dry day. No air raids over Algiers last night. Divisional Commander and his staff left for front today.

28th November

6 Innisks – BARAKI.

Last night warm and it has been fine and warm all day. Brigade Commander’s TEWT for CO and Coy Commander’s 1030 – 1230. The camp is now drying up but the mud is very sticky. Major Allen spends day in Algiers sorting out M.T. and Baggage parties. Captain Bunch also in Algiers buying up whiskey and gin for officers future use. Half HQ Coy now in out buildings of the farm. 17 vehicles unloaded and now in Battalion lines. No pilfering reported so far, except 3 bottles from Battalion HQ Mess Box. CO inspects companies and finds D Coy have an excellent show going.

29th November

Brigade HQ – FARM 795012.

0600 Captain DA Parker, Captain ED Thompson and 46 ORs en-trained at Hussien Dey (7708) for Bougie.

6 Innisks – BARAKI.

Battalion church parade at 1030hrs for C of Es followed by Holy Communion in perfect weather and Mediterranean blue sky, with the Atlas Mountains in the distance, with snowy tops. Companies do PT stripped to the waist.

30th November

6 Innisks – BARAKI.

Most of the Battalion transport from J.11 now here and officers valises now available. Much re-sorting of kit takes place. Information is received that 29 officers and 569 ORs are going to Bone by destroyers and fast ships, probably embarking Tuesday night and the party will probably march into Algiers tomorrow. No air raids last night. Warm night after beautifully sunny day.